Prostitution is a serious crime throughout South Florida. About every month, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office sets up prostitution stings throughout the county to catch men and women engaged in criminal activity. Most recently in August, five men were arrested in West Palm Beach on prostitution-related charges. Their ages ranged from age 21 to 69. In July, six women were arrested. In May, there were seven women arrested, and in April, online sex ads led to the arrest of five women.
Police routinely set up such stings to crack down on prostitution. They do so generally in two ways. To catch prostitutes, police often sift through “personals” ads on websites like backpage.com or craigslist.com. These ads contain suggestive photos and are intended to attract “johns” or prostitution customers who are generally men.
In another scenario, police set up fake ads on these websites to draw people looking for paid sexual services. A female police officer poses as a prostitute when she answers inquiries from potential customers. She agrees to meet with them in a specified location, which is set up with hidden cameras and microphones to capture evidence of illegal activity. Fellow officers wait nearby to catch the person who sought such services and place him under arrest at the female officer’s signal.
How do police legally get away with making so many prostitution arrests if they go looking for crime?
Definition of Entrapment
Not every case of prostitution or solicitation can be fought with the entrapment defense. To prove entrapment, attorneys must show that the undercover officer posing as a prostitute “induced or encouraged” the clients to commit a crime they otherwise would not commit. In addition, it must be shown that the police planted the idea to commit the offense. This can take place either through undue pressuring or persuasion. Entrapment is itself is an affirmative defense, which means that the defendant must admit to solicitation of prostitution to show that the police pushed him into it.
A man who solicits prostitution by voluntarily searching for it, by looking online, for example, has likely already discredited the entrapment defense. It is up to the defendant’s defense attorney to evaluate all aspects of the case, including the police’s behavior and the circumstances that led to the sting, to determine the best course of action.
Why You Need to Hire an Attorney
Prostitution and solicitation of prostitution are misdemeanor crimes that could flag you as a sex offender in Florida. Though you may not need to register as such, the consequences of a prostitution or solicitation conviction will be taken into consideration if you commit any subsequent crimes. Your job and current way of life stand to be affected by such charges, particularly if you are convicted. You could face jail time, steep fines, and stigma.
Attorney Brian Gabriel has defended those accused of sex crimes as part of his extensive career as a criminal defense lawyer in Palm Beach County. With over 30 years of experience, he will ensure that all the factors of your case are adequately addressed and do his best to obtain the most favorable results. Call 561-622-5575 or contact The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel online to schedule a free and confidential consultation.